32nd Parliament, 1st Session


The House resumed at 8:01 p.m.


Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for interim supply, June 1 to October 31, 1981.

The Deputy Speaker: On the motion for interim supply, I believe the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway) still has the floor in this debate.

Just before the member proceeds, I want to clarify something for the record. If he will recall, the other evening as he was concluding I attempted to bring him to order in regard to his straying away from the motion before the House. My concern was that he was talking about the moral aptitude of the employees at Ontario Hydro, which I thought did not quite encompass the aspect of the resolution. It was late in the evening, and I did not feel like arguing the point with him. That is just for clarification.

Mr. Conway: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. To continue my comments of the other evening, I want to begin tonight where I left off in my cursory examination of the budget. Tonight I want to touch briefly upon a rather interesting reference made to Ontario health insurance plan premiums. I found the reference in the budget of 1981, as set out on page 20, which says:

"Mr. Speaker, some members think that premiums are not an appropriate health financing vehicle. Let me say that I intend to explore in depth other financing options, such as a payroll tax." That is from the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller).

Mr. Mackenzie: Which century?

Mr. Conway: My colleague the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie) will well remember some three years ago when the government of that day, as well as this, took a decidedly different position. It is my recollection that this Treasurer and his predecessor fought very valiantly to maintain that kind of tax with all its unfairness, inefficiency and regressivity.

I well remember in the film made by Peter Raymond for the National Film Board, called The Art of the Possible, how we got an inside look at Darcy McKeough and the famous "premium debate" of 1978. I thought it was so interesting because it revealed, to me at least, how this government and its staff will agree internally with the standard opposition argument about the injustice and the inefficiency of the OHIP premium system.

The Treasurer replied the other day to a question put by the distinguished New Democratic Party spokesman for health, the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan). He offered some comment about the rate of uptake in whole and partial premium assistance. I do not know whether the member for Bellwoods has yet received the data. I asked on a supplementary question for some information. I will be very interested to know whether in 1981 this Treasurer, on behalf of that government, can provide us with any realistic information about just how inefficient and how hopeless a system it is they have developed.

Mr. McClellan: He promised the data but did not give it.

Mr. Conway: I believe that might be so, but I am prepared to wait a little longer.

I want to put on the record again what the former Treasurer told us on one occasion. He said that in 1978 there were no fewer than 60,000 people on partial premium assistance, and he could give us an absolute assurance that was so. He could not tell us exactly how many, but there were no fewer than 60,000 people.

About two months later, through one of his officials -- some of whom are represented here today if faces are to be believed -- we were told that the figure of 60,000 was not quite accurate. The member for Hamilton East might want to correct me, but I think the statement was that there were 586 people taking advantage of partial premium assistance in Ontario.

All I want to say about those two figures is that I know with certainty they are both wrong. I must have 500 friends in various institutions, educational and otherwise, who are taking advantage of partial premium assistance.

Those of us who served on that committee had a firsthand opportunity to see just how mixed up and poorly administered that system was.

I have to think that the experience of 1978 was sufficient to bring about a serious attitude to reform. If it has taken three years to bring the government of Ontario to the recognition, as set out on page 20 of the budget, that there might be a better way, then I am delighted. I am truly happy that, in the interest of a fairer, more just and more efficient health care system, we will finally begin on the road to reform in that particular area.

Mr. McClellan: They said that in 1979 too.

Mr. Conway: It may have been so, but I am prepared to give this Treasurer one last chance to produce a new policy.

We are always told by certain people on the other side of the House about the independence of the public service. I do not know how many people here saw the film I referred to earlier, The Art of the Possible. I will never forget Ed Stewart's performance in that film. Never will I forget how the chief public servant in this province allowed himself to be filmed. For me, that film removed any illusions I might have had about just how innocent and independent the cabinet office is in this administration.

I well remember the chatter between Mr. Stewart and Mr. McKeough on the whole OHIP thing. It is too bad the former member for Scarborough-Ellesmere is not here tonight. I remember the discussion between the then Treasurer, the Premier (Mr. Davis) and the deputy in charge of the Premier's office. I remember Mr. McKeough leaning back in his chair, snapping his fingers and saying, "Ed, what is the rhetoric we use to justify premiums?" Mr. Stewart, quick to his feet, replied: "Darcy, the visible link. The visible link." Mr. McKeough, the Premier or both were chortling and saying, "Oh, isn't it wonderful? We don't have to worry about bringing this into the House."

It is too bad Mr. Raymond did not let that film run an extra five or 10 days. He would have shown the people of this country what the art of the possible is all about in this jurisdiction.

I have said enough about the premium commitment spoken of by the Treasurer in his budget document on page 20. I understand the certain arrangements that have given us the politics of the foregone conclusion by those who want to expedite these debates in the interest of getting out early. Who am I to stand against that irresistible pressure in the face of a beautiful summer day and an ever more alluring pay bill?

8:10 p.m.

In my allowed time tonight, whatever that might be, I want to talk about a few things that do grate on me to some degree relating to the expenditures of this province. I found it interesting today that my colleague the member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson) had to get on his feet and draw to the attention of all honourable members what I believe, as the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) properly pointed out as well, to have been a serious violation of the traditions and privileges of the members of this House.

Let me say at the outset that I do not expect many people here to care or understand. After six years in this place, I have come to the conclusion that the concept of an independent Legislature does not mean very much to most people here. If there has been one underlying reason for the acrimony and difficulty this session, it is because of that reality. The reality of 1981 is the reality of many previous years. It seems it is not in the interests of many people here to have a genuinely independent Legislative Assembly.

I truly laugh when so many here want to adorn themselves with all the glory of Westminster when behaving with the kind of antediluvian attitudes of a theocracy or some kind of single-party Star Chamber. As one private member, I find offensive the degree to which some people are prepared to go to undermine the independence of this Legislature. I will do my best to monitor developments in that connection in the coming months.

It was interesting that the whole point of the member for London Centre's point of order today was apparently lost on the government House leader (Mr. Wells). The question about this interim supply must surely be whether it was as necessary as it appears to be. We all understand, because every one of us has at one time or another read Professor Ward's The Public Purse to understand the traditions of supply in the British parliamentary system. What I found very interesting is that the two questions involved in today's exchange were not in any way addressed by the government.

My most important question on that matter is, on what specific authority has this government been spending money since June 1, 1981? Some would say, "The warrants cover that period." If it is the case the warrants cover that period, Mr. Speaker, why are we backdating the resolution you are so anxious we specifically concern ourselves with in this debate? On what specific authority is this government spending money from June 1, 1981? That is a question I did not hear addressed by the government House leader.

In addition, since the House was called back on April 22, why was it that we did not have this interim supply motion at a much earlier date than when we received it a few days ago? I would be delighted before this debate concludes to have an answer from someone over there on those two points. Why did we have to wait until the middle of June to get a backdated interim supply motion? On what specific authority has this government been spending money since June 1, and spending a very considerable amount of money?

One of the areas where the expenditures of public moneys have become somewhat ridiculous is in the number of appointments being made across the way. I have to say to my honourable friends opposite that it was with some interest I read a memorandum from my colleague the member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt) on who has what as a result of the realities and the spoils of March 19. I found it interesting, to say the least, that fully 62 of 70 government members are on some kind of special gravy train as a result of March 19.

Of course, we understand how it is that members of the cabinet will be in a different category than others. I have understood something about the growing tendency to appoint Ministers without Portfolio and to appoint parliamentary assistants.

Mr. Foulds: That is a serious failure. In 1971, out of 78 members, 77 got extra remuneration. Only Albert Belanger missed the gravy train that year.

Mr. Conway: I found certain things about this latest list interesting. To begin with, and I know the member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds) will be interested to know, when you set it all out, it is immediately obvious who is on the bad boys' or bad girls' list. Against some names there stands nothing by way of additional remuneration.

I note with some interest that the very distinguished and very honourable member for Timiskaming (Mr. Havrot), the member for Prince Edward-Lennox (Mr. J. A. Taylor) --

Mr. Foulds: The member for Timiskaming is representing us in Sri Lanka.

Mr. Conway: Exactly. I am told that the process by means of which that very distinguished and very honourable member is representing us in Sri Lanka is a fabulous testament to just how independent a Legislature we have. It warms my heart when I hear the story of how that very distinguished, very illustrious, very charming, very diplomatic, very eloquent member has come to represent us at the conference in Sri Lanka.

The Deputy Speaker: All right. Come on back to the resolution, Mr. Conway.

Mr. Conway: But I note as well that the former Minister of Energy and the former Minister of Community and Social Services, the former outspoken member and currently less outspoken member for Prince Edward-Lennox (Mr. J. A. Taylor), is also without additional emolument. As well, the member for St. David (Mrs. Scrivener), the former Minister of Revenue and the former Minister of Government Services, is without any particular additional income.

Mr. Nixon: I don't know why she hangs around here.

Mr. Conway: I note with some interest that the new member for Humber (Mr. Kells) is without any just reward or deserts. I will let that speak for itself.

But I find it interesting when I look at this list and see that this cabinet bench expands endlessly. We now have a total of 26 or 27 ministers. We still have a panoply of superministers who are paid, I note, an additional $21,000 to stand quietly in their places and say, "I want to thank the honourable member opposite, Mr. Speaker, for his very timely question, and I shall take it as notice. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker." We continue to pay those very fine people an additional $21,000.

We have a Minister of Revenue (Mr. Ashe) and a Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. Leluk) who are so important that some of them have not yet spoken a word in this session of the House. We have one case of a Minister without Portfolio who tells us it is his responsibility to follow in the steps of the new Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope), the former Minister without Portfolio, and bring about freedom of information.

8:20 p.m.

As I understand it, we paid the former Minister without Portfolio, the current Minister of Natural Resources, a sum of some $9,000 as Minister without Portfolio to work up a paper on freedom of information -- over many months.

Mr. Foulds: That is why we need this interim supply.

Mr. Conway: Indeed, it is.

We were told the paper was almost ready -- all but the finishing touches. I was delighted to know the additional emolument and all the resources that fell to the Minister without Portfolio had not gone without some productivity to show for it all. But what do we get on June 1 from his successor? The Minister without Portfolio, the member from Carleton-Grenville (Mr. Sterling), who is mandated to carry on the job of freedom of information -- we understand it has a very high priority with this government -- gives us this on June 1, as reported at page 1163 of Hansard:

"Mr. Speaker, if I can continue: I hope I will be able to produce a paper within the next four or five months to outline our position in regard to the intended proposals in terms of legislation and ideas about freedom of information..."

I think that says something about the commitment of the government to freedom of information, and just how worthless are some of these so-called ministerial personalities in terms of what they are producing. It is a classic dodge. The government on the one hand says it wants the information and, like so many other things, is going to do everything within its power to see that it does not happen.

I am reminded when we talk about voting interim supply that it is to make sure a lot of people around here can be paid. Not only do we have some of these superministers who are so questionable in their contribution, in so far as I can tell at least, but now I note that some of them are being blessed with parliamentary assistants. Added to that I am told some of these parliamentary assistants are so overburdened with their obligations they cannot drive within 100 miles of this very place without calling upon the ministerial vehicle, the ministerial driver, and God only knows what else. If that is what I am being brought here tonight to endorse, I do so very reluctantly, if at all.

The list is quite interesting. That we have a Minister of Revenue and a Minister of Correctional Services at all is quite astonishing. There are some in this House who will recall the halcyon days of Frost and Drew, when the idea of a 27-member cabinet was transparently preposterous. That we would have such a collection of outer ministers doing such things as they are now apparently doing -- taking four and five and six extra months to rewrite some document that was long since paid for and, one would have hoped, produced -- is quite astonishing. But it is much worse than that, as some will want to know.

I find the idea of a Minister of Revenue preposterous, and I make no apology for saying so. But that we have a parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Revenue is laughable. If that is what it is going to take to deal with the private income realities around here, then I am all in favour of doing as some distinguished columnist for some distinguished newspaper suggests. Let us not abuse the public Treasury with the concept that we need, and ought to pay for, a parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Revenue and spend the kind of money that it takes to create that layered nepotism over there so that the private income realities can be provided.

Listen, friends, if it is money they want, let us agree with those who are enjoining us day by day to come clean and produce a pay bill that is honest and meets the various needs of honourable members. It seems to me an affront to the taxpayers of Ontario that we have this kind of laughable, though expensive, situation whereby we have a parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Revenue.

I would not mind at all if parliamentary assistants around here meant something. It is beyond me how any self-respecting luminary like a distinguished former reeve of the township of Gloucester in the national capital region could sign on to be one of these parliamentary assistants, when the standing orders which govern his behaviour say, "Parliamentary assistants" -- such as the member from Carleton East -- "may answer" a question for his Solicitor General boss "only when authorized by the Premier."

Did members ever hear of such a system whereby we endow these people with additional emoluments, with a bevy of staff and vehicles and an additional $6,500 -- soon to be whatever, $7,500 -- so that we might, some day, in the absence of their minister, prey upon the generosity of the first minister to have one of these poor, lost, lonely souls on the back bench get up and tell us something of departmental interest or concern?

That anyone over there walking to the paymaster every month can accept on the one hand that additional emolument, and on the other hand accept the totally insulting provisions of our standing orders is, I think, a comment on the kind of Pavlovian toadyism that has come to be the order of the day around this place.

There is always a worry in majority government about a government not being in control of its forces and losing a debate to the opposition and thereby going to the people at an earlier date than was contemplated. I understand something about the requirements to keep an eye on 70 members, or 34 members or 21.

Mr. Edighoffer: That's 30.

Mr. Conway: I will come back to that. My friend the member for Perth (Mr. Edighoffer) reminds me that 21 is really 30, which is something else I want to speak to briefly.

Do we really need to pay out four additional salaries -- to the chief government whip (Mr. Gregory), the expansive member for Cochrane North (Mr. Piché), the new member for Lakeshore (Mr. Kolyn) and the distinguished member for Wellington-Dufferin-Peel (Mr. J. M. Johnson)? Do we really need to pay out some additional $22,000 or $20,000 to make sure the numbers are where they ought to be when they are required?

I have to say to the very engaging and spirited member for Lakeshore, even he will understand that spending that kind of additional dollars to corral a group of recalcitrant Tories is not what a lot of Tories over there were talking about not very long ago in so far as the need for restraint is concerned.

8:30 p.m.

The next time a government whip or a parliamentary assistant seconds a car to drive down the road because he or she is just so tired that he cannot cope with the drive to wherever, I hope that it will be remembered for the next restraining speech that honourable members give.

Mr. Roy: How many on that side do not make extra money?

Mr. Conway: My colleague the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) asks me, and I will repeat --

The Deputy Speaker: Do not be repetitive, Mr. Conway. Remember the standing orders?

Mr. Conway: I will repeat for my friend the member for Ottawa East that the collection of saints and sinners excludes but eight. As my friend the member for Ottawa East knows better than most in this House, there are those who lost on March 19 for whom the realities of emolument and office and joy are much greater than the pittance afforded to the new member for Cochrane North, who was offered but a mere $3,000 to count.

One is reminded of the distinguished Conservative candidate in Ottawa East who, together with his family, has landed the main prize in so far as post-election joys are concerned. I have to think that the list does not end there.

I am reminded by a lot of people around this place of the promise of a new and better era as a result of March 19, and of just what it is these dollars we will vote in interim supply will be able to provide by way of new social and economic initiatives. I was reminded of that promise in my own mailbox some 255 miles from this place not very long after the election -- May 15, to be specific -- when these people, with whom I understand you have an erstwhile affiliation, Mr. Speaker, sent through a certain William Kelly a letter that reads, but in only one or two paragraphs, accordingly:

"Dear Ontarian: Keeping the promise of a bright future for Ontario means much, much more than an election slogan for the Davis government. It means a long-term commitment to better the economic and social wellbeing of every Ontario resident."

The Deputy Speaker: Mr. Conway, in fear of asking, can you now relate that to this resolution?

Mr. Conway: Yes, lean, Mr. Speaker, because your colleagues the other night interpreted my remarks in this debate in such a way as to dispatch the dean of the House, the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry (Mr. Villeneuve), with a little collection, which I counted, in the amount of $1.47.

I thought I would have no better opportunity than on interim supply to commandeer one of these pages to take to my friends over there, for a deposit to Mr. William Kelly on his account, since his letters are so plaintive about what realizing the promise involves, $1.47 as my testament to what I think the promise of March 19 really amounts to and what it is worth.

If Mr. Kelly finds it too small or too large a contribution, then will he please relay it to the distinguished Treasurer so that he might be assisted in defraying the expenditures of interim supply as they are required.

The Deputy Speaker: I knew there was a connection. Thank you.

Mr. Conway: Along with my colleagues in the chamber I want to know and I am interested to know because, although I am not a very partisan fellow, I assume some of the payments being sought by this resolution will find their way into the Office of the Legislative Assembly.

Since that is my belief, I think it is appropriate tonight to express not an objection as some of my other colleagues have been wont to put forward in connection with certain activities related to the underwriting of various caucuses here, but to pass comment on the fact that, as my friend the member for Perth drew attention to moments ago, we have over here a group of 21 distinguished New Democrats carrying forward the banner of social democracy in this province in the light of very difficult circumstances.

The night the new member for St. George (Ms. Fish) privately burned or tore up her card in the New Democratic Party and fled to the high altar of opportunistic promise in the Conservative Party, set a tone and a direction that was --

Mr. McClellan: She keeps her card to this day I am sure.

Mr. Conway: I recall what members over there were saying to me, and I will not embarrass the honourable members opposite who said in hallways back in December, "The grand old party has come to such a state we are taking rejects from the urban-based New Democratic wing and I hear the distinguished former New Democrat from ward five is joining the Progressive Conservative cause."

Whether these Conservative colleagues or others were speaking inaccurately of the public or private ambitions and philosophical affinities of the new member for St. George, I cannot speak to.

The Deputy Speaker: How about speaking to the resolution?

Mr. Conway: I am speaking to the resolution, and on this interim supply motion I just want to note that, as a result of a very understandable, clever, political sweetheart deal, this government at the highest levels has recognized 30 where there are but 21.

The additional $82,000 subvention is a testament to at least one reality and that is that the Premier and the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs are not many things, but one thing they are not is Walter Baker and Joe Clark. They understand the dialectic of multiparty Legislatures in a keen way.

They understand something about the give and take. They understand who needs to be propped up and just how to prop them up and serve their cause indirectly. I am not a niggardly, mean-spirited fellow. Far from it. I want to note that part of the reality of March 19 is that my friend and colleague from Renfrew South (Mr. Yakabuski), my friend and colleague from Prince Edward-Lennox, my friends and colleagues the very left-leaning members of the government caucus, are active participants in an $82,000 subsidy to the Socialist cause in this place.

8:40 p.m.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: Are you really so misanthropic?

Mr. Conway: I will tell you, I wasn't very mean-spirited until the campaign of February and March, but taking an elegant and delicate phrase from George Bush, who described the Carter campaign as "a groin kicking exercise," George Bush's words apply to what I felt to be the reality of the campaign of the government party. I felt that prior to the spring of this year that honour, even among politicians, meant something, but I learned from the very distinguished first minister of this place not ever to make the mistake of presuming that kind of attitude when maybe, just maybe, the facts do not warrant that kind of presumption.

Tonight on interim supply I wanted to simply acknowledge that the people opposite are subsidizing the third party here -- who I am told are very appreciative of that particular help -- to the tune of approximately $82,000.

At the risk of repeating some of my brief intervention on Bill 72, which I was regrettably unable to complete on other accounts, tonight I did want to pass a few comments on one of the important aspects of public policy and the expenditures of interim supply as they relate thereto and a commentary which has been undertaken by many in this House, namely, energy.

A number of members, though all on this side, participated in that debate pointing out the silent partner quality of the ad valorem gasoline tax. I was struck by the number of people who made the argument that this is a government which is now profiteering as a result of higher domestic oil prices in the face of a repeated and vigorous political campaign against that kind of escalation. I said some of those things. But I was struck by the number of people over here who argued that this was an unbelievable about-face. "This was hypocrisy," they said. "This was unheard of because there was no forewarning." They had re-established their majority and on the basis of fighting higher oil prices, they had won that majority. Now, without notice, they were going to change position on oil pricing and profiteer with higher prices.

I am not one of those people over here who believes that change of course was served without notice, because I believe there to have been two important indications about a very dramatic change of heart. The second of these came right around budget time. I believe the meeting occurred about the time of the budget in May of this year.

Deborah Dowling, reporting in the Financial Post, headlined the Ontario chapter with "Softening up Oil Attitudes."

The Deputy Speaker: Mr. Conway, could I bring you to order for a moment please. I am having some difficulty with regard to standing orders and it has been brought to my attention, under 19(5), "A member shall be called to order when he anticipates any matter already on the Order Paper or Notice Paper for consideration." In your learned opinion, do you think you are doing that?

Mr. Conway: It is the rule that we can speak to the matters of public expenditure related to interim supply. I am assuming that some of the billions of dollars we are approving will find their way to the Ministry of Revenue, the gas tax branch. I am asked to approve dollars to pay for the administration of the gasoline tax branch in the Ministry of Revenue and I assume that, in voting moneys to pay those salaries, it is in order for me to pass comments about that department.

I recognize there are standing orders such as the one you quoted, Mr. Speaker, which would caution honourable members in the absence of other considerations to do exactly as you enjoined.

The Deputy Speaker: As a result, Mr. Conway, and after listening to your learned opinion and your interpretation, I beg to differ with you. After due consideration I would ask you to make your comments a little broader in terms of what is already in existence on the Order Paper.

Mr. Conway: Your colleagues, Mr. Speaker, will relieve me of that obligation momentarily.

We are not talking about the ad valorem gas tax per se -- I will pass on that. We are talking about energy policies as espoused by various factions of this government. I want to cite briefly two public references that indicate we had notice, those of us who were careful to look, to listen and to see what was there between and above the lines.

I noticed that when we met with a group of western oil men in this city not long ago, the government's lead hand in industry and tourism, the very important Minister of Industry and Tourism was quoted in the Financial Post:

"In a meeting with Larry Grossman, Ontario Industry and Tourism minister, the oil men asked for Ontario's support for a more rapid increase in energy prices than that allowed by the national energy program. Grossman told the Post that Ontario's response is 'Yes, we are willing to be part of the agreement to negotiate and to move off our position.'

"Up to now Ontario has opposed the rapid escalation in prices for domestic oil. But Ontario expects movement elsewhere. 'Our message is we understand the necessity of getting the megaprojects under way, but when we say everything is negotiable I mean everything is negotiable and we will move off our position of earlier days.'"

That is the weaker of the two positions. It is very late in the day and it is close to the budget of the member for Muskoka (Mr. F. S. Miller). Much more interesting is the commentary of the new Minister without Portfolio, the vice-chairman of Management Board, the member for Armourdale (Mr. McCaffrey), who was a colleague of mine on the select committee on constitutional reform. I know my colleague the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) will want to remember this. The constitutional committee went to Edmonton to discuss oil policy in the fall of 1980, long before the election, when the only concern of the government was trying to fill Sid Handleman's post over there.

Those members of the assembly who happened to be in government house in Edmonton that warm night in late September had the joy of listening not to the member for Armourdale but to the member for Prince Edward-Lennox, the former Minister of Energy. He gave a speech and made public comments that seemed to come down on the side not of the Premier, not of Marc Lalonde, not of Peter Lougheed or Merv Leitch, but of Sheikh Yamani. The member's position in the full sail of his free enterprise rhetoric was an astonishing addition to my understanding of what the Tory oil policy was all about, and to think --

The Deputy Speaker: Mr. Conway, would you get us back from Edmonton to this assembly now?

8:50 p.m.

Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, I have to submit the energy policy of this government must of necessity be a centrepiece of any supply bill, the order of magnitude of which we are being asked to consider here tonight. When I think of the chutzpah of the Tories in February and March in talking about the contradictions in anybody else's energy and oil policy, when they have and harbour and support someone who has said the public things the member for Prince Edward-Lennox has said, I have to think they are brave indeed.

Back to the stated record of the much more important minister of the current government. We will not search the doghouse of despair for lost voices from earlier hope to condemn the current situation. I would rather take a rising star, like the member for Armourdale. I want to share briefly a few comments from the October 1980 edition of the learned western periodical, Alberta Report. I know the Minister of Education will wish to upset herself, because the language might become somewhat controversial: The headline of the article is as follows --

Mr. Roy: We have cleared the gallery.

The Deputy Speaker: Mr. Conway, are you confident this is going to work within the ambit of the motion?


Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, we are tired of your interruptions.

The Deputy Speaker: I am tired of having to call the member into order in terms of the resolution before this Legislature.

Mr. Conway: Headline, Alberta Report, October 1980: "Alberta's 'Rude Bastards' Change an Ontario Mind." The article says: "Bruce McCaffrey, Conservative member of the provincial parliament for Ontario's Armourdale riding, visited this province with 12 other MPPs six weeks ago and later called Alberta MLAs 'rude, gruff bastards' because of their strong attacks on centralist energy and constitutional policies. Nevertheless, Mr. McCaffrey was back last week, though none of his colleagues from the Legislature's committee on constitutional reform accompanied him. This time he was one of eight MPPs here through a Canadian Parliamentary Association program." They send the member for Armourdale to Edmonton and the member for Timiskaming to Sri Lanka.

"After three days of meetings with cabinet ministers, MLAs, government officials and oil and gas industry representatives, Mr. McCaffrey" -- whom I would like to point out is now Minister without Portfolio, rising star in the financial right-of-centre part of the government coalition -- "concluded that he would support Alberta's case back in Ontario." Let me repeat, "After three days of meetings with cabinet ministers, MLAs, government officials, and oil and gas industry representatives, Mr. McCaffrey concluded that he would support Alberta's case back in Ontario."

How dare anyone stand over here and make a hypocritical about-face without notice? The member for Armourdale told us from the high chair of power and glory as early as October 1980 what the realities of 1981 were going to visit upon this administration, this assembly and this poor, unsuspecting province, which was misled, shall I say, in the snowy days of February and March a few months ago. What can I say? What minister with portfolio can show so much impact in so short a time as the then backbencher, the current Minister without Portfolio? Not even the former Minister without Portfolio from Timmins could report as much success with Star Transport.

At any rate, unfair are my colleagues who say and who serve notice that we got no prior indication, because we were told clearly that important members of the government caucus were coming back convinced of Alberta's case and were going to sell the justice of that argument. I tip my hat to the member for Armourdale, not for the justice of his argument but for the success of his sales pitch.

Mr. Roy: I do not believe it; I said I do not believe it.

Mr. Conway: Well, it is extremely difficult for those of us who have to listen to the Premier (Mr. Davis), the Treasurer and the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) lecture us about our inconsistencies. Imperfect we are, to be sure.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: You are right.

Mr. Conway: Where Atlas bows with the world on his shoulders the Minister of Education bows under the enormous pressure of omniscience. Some of us are a little shy of that omniscience. I would that I were so perfect; but in this mortal world, in this mortal coil, but few, as Calvin said, are among the elect.

Let me quote from the last paragraph of Alberta Report of October 1980, which says:

"Despite the vicious arguments, though, at least part of the message did get through. The committee is expected to report at the end of this month, and will recommend the Alberta position on the amending formula. 'On its own we could not understand the Alberta concern,' says Mr. McCaffrey, 'but in the perspective of a few generations of grievances it makes a good deal of sense. Out here $6 billion means one oil sands plant; in Ontario it means a huge slash of money in a province with no sales tax and the lowest property taxes around. A lot of people in my province just can't put the heritage fund in perspective.' He will try to convince his colleagues that unless fair agreements are negotiated with Alberta there will not be an Alberta as we know it to talk about."

In very significant measure, as far as that last comment is concerned, the very sensitive, very attuned member for Armourdale has an important point we would all do well to listen to. But I listened to a different tune not long ago, and I find it difficult, if not obnoxious, to be lectured to by a party that has in its closet this kind of stated public position, to say nothing of the remarkable pronouncements of a former minister of the crown in charge of energy, who has said, as I commented earlier, things that make the member for Armourdale look like a closet Conservative on the subject to the greatest degree.

9 p.m.

I just wanted tonight, on interim supply, to share with the honourable members opposite how it is that perceptive members around this place might have anticipated the beautiful, clever, productive, ad valorem scam that the Treasurer of Ontario has visited upon an as yet unsuspecting population. It is so clever. It is just so ingenious.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: I am worried about your paranoia. Are you sure you don't need a psychiatrist? Have you been to see one lately? Because you are depressed and very paranoiac.

Mr. Conway: It proves this is a dynasty that might live by those kinds of ingenious methodologies. I have come to believe this is a dynasty that might survive a long time by virtue of these kinds of ingenious methodologies.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: I am concerned about him because he is ill.

Mr. Conway: I do not mind, but in some respects the good doctor, the former president of the --


Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Conway: I will not even share with members tonight, I will not even share with these people, what a former Conservative candidate in the peninsula known to the member for St. Catharines as the candidate in 1968, Laura Sabia, had to say about this little scam.

Writing in the Toronto Sun of May 26, the distinguished former Conservative candidate and oftentimes Conservative partisan, Ms. Sabia said, and I quote: "How dare" --

Mr. Bradley: She has a conscience. Let us hear what she said.

Mr. Conway: Yes, the conscience of Tories in the peninsula. "How dare the Ontario government index the rising price of gasoline and diesel fuel? A 20 per cent tax on the retail price, subject to review every three months, is a scandalous exploitation of the taxpayer.

"The very man, Bill Davis, who flayed Peter Lougheed for insisting on 75 per cent of the world price for oil and who, with his bedfellow Pierre, danced to the tune of a made-in-Canada price, now delights in the escalating prices as he socks it to the taxpayer. Who's the blue-eyed sheikh now? Who's the greedy little pig at the political trough?"

Hon. Mr. Drea: Is she still running for Pope?

Mr. Conway: Is Ms. Sabia running for Pope? Who knows. I heard a speech in here one night that --

Mr. Kerrio: I don't think she could get a passport to the Vatican after what she said.

Mr. Conway: The member for Scarborough Centre asks if someone is running for Pope. I remember an eloquent speech not long ago, not far away, about someone running for Supreme Court justice, and I think one is as likely as the other.

I am told by our Pope, the Minister of Education, that those electoral contests can be as vigorous as any around. There are a few things I would like to wind up with in this interim supply debate. I saw the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) here tonight, and --

Hon. Miss Stephenson: I think the honourable member is hallucinating.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Cousens): Order.

Mr. Roy: I don't believe this! I think you should put on the record that on Thursday night at nine o'clock the Attorney General is in the House.

Mr. Conway: The member for Ottawa East might say that, but I thought I heard the Minister of Education suggest the Attorney General was this very night a hallucination. If the very distinguished Attorney General is a hallucination, then I have come a long way.

I am almost tempted one of these days to get up on a point of order, Mr. Speaker, and ask you to take under advisement some of the medical language the Minister of Education throws around this place.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: It is absolutely clean.

Mr. Conway: I give her one last warning, because I do not want to embarrass her publicly, but I caution her to keep her caustic little tongue in the medical journals, where propriety ought to guide her. I have been observing some of the charming little interventions and I do not think they are very parliamentary at all.

The Acting Speaker: You are talking on the interim supply bill.

Mr. Conway: Yes, I am. Keeping in mind that we are here to fulfil the promise, that we are here to vote interim supply, and some of us are very skeptical about those obligations, I thought tonight might be a good opportunity for the Attorney General to make it a little easier for some of us.

There was a promise talked of in this last election -- and I understand the rhetoric of campaigns very well --

Mr. Peterson: You never use it, do you?

Mr. Conway: Never.

With the Attorney General here, and mindful of the promise -- keeping in mind that some of these billions of interim supply dollars were going to freedom of information --

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: We gave you your judge, didn't we?

The Acting Speaker: Order.

Mr. Conway: Did I get the judge? I got the very distinguished judge, my distant cousin and the former president of the North Renfrew Progressive Conservative Association. And I applaud my relationship and yours openly.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: He's a good judge.

Mr. Conway: A marvellous judge.

In a more serious vein. I am wondering about a promise made to some parents almost two years ago by the Premier with respect to a horrible tragedy in northwestern Ontario. If I felt I was standing here tonight and in some way voting money to actualize that promise made in August 1979, on that account alone I would sit down and remain quiet for the rest of this session. But I have stood in this chamber for more than a year and have seen how the stain of Nakina remains on this government. I am not very happy about it. Not in any way am I happy about the shabby, shoddy way of that promise and how it is being discharged.

There might be anger and there might be discomfiture on the faces of honourable members opposite --

The Acting Speaker: On the interim supply.

Mr. Conway: -- but if the Attorney General would stand in his place tonight or at a later date and tell me I was voting money to make that promise mean something, then on that account alone would I delight in my parliamentary function. But I remain an offended member of this chamber in so far as the discharge of that Nakina fire business is concerned.

If that is the best we can do in this province of making and keeping the promise, then I think we had better revise our rhetoric. It is clear there is a tragic gulf, as seen at least by many of the involved people, between the promise made and the performance as it has been seen over the intervening 20 months. If, before I leave this place, the Attorney General or the plenipotentiary of the front bench, the Minister of Education, or maybe even the Treasurer would indicate to me how that callous runaround is going to come to a conclusion that makes real and honourable the promise of August 1979, then these interim supply moneys are very well established indeed.

9:10 p.m.

I noted as well an announcement in the Financial Post not too many weeks ago. It was the announcement that a good friend of mine, the former member for Cochrane North -- someone I knew for at least five years, someone I liked very much and someone who worked very hard and served, I believe, very well and very conscientiously -- had very shortly after his retirement in the spring of this year accepted an appointment to a major pulp and paper concern with which the government, of which he was a member, had some dealings.

Mr. Peterson: What about the deputy minister?

Mr. Conway: My colleague from London Centre draws to my attention that next point. I was reminded --


The Acting Speaker: Order. Order.

Mr. Conway: I do not know, but I think that sitting at least six months of the year should be understandable. I know why certain people want us out of here; I could not imagine it being otherwise.

But I want to say again, if I thought that some of the moneys in interim supply were being voted to create a study group, a legislation subcommittee of cabinet that would put in place rules that would parallel the federal guidelines on this very sensitive, delicate issue of distance between the cabinet and the senior bureaucracy and certain people in the private sector, they would be well voted.

I am reminded that in the May 23 issue of the Financial Post it is reported that Dome Mines "is pleased to announce the following appointments to its board of governors." One of the appointments made on that occasion was Dr. J. Keith Reynolds, the former deputy minister with the Ministry of Natural Resources, who is currently chairman of the Metropolitan Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. Dome notes in this announcement that he is also a director of Rio Algom.

I do not think it is proper, speaking as a private member, for a cabinet officer, cabinet member or a deputy minister to leave this place and, within days or weeks, sign up with people in the private sector with whom he had a direct interest in his previous incarnation.

I have no reason to question the integrity either of Dr. Reynolds or of Rene Brunelle. I cannot imagine that they would act in anything but a wise and proper way, but I am sure people on municipal councils, people in other levels of government can understand with me how, in 1981, it is not very helpful to have this kind of situation where we reinforce, through these kinds of appointments, a kind of client relationship -- government to the private sector.

As my friend the member for Grey-Bruce (Mr. Sargent) reminds us so often, one of the largest transactions entered into by this government in recent years was the uranium contracts --

The Acting Speaker: On the interim supply, Mr. Conway, please.

Mr. Conway: -- that in some direct way affected Rio Algom. To think that a Deputy Minister of Natural Resources would go from that position to Rio Algom within the space of a very few weeks is upsetting to me. I think it creates a wrong relationship and a wrong impression, and I would like to think that reasonable people might agree to ways and means of establishing some distance -- not a perpetual everlasting distance, but some reasonable distance, probably like that spoken of in the federal guidelines. I would like to think that in the course of voting interim supply we would have some indication that that kind of guideline would be forthcoming.

Mr. Speaker, I have probably taxed my audience with more than they had been led to believe was their due tonight. I will not, because I presume I really cannot, discuss the requirements of my constituency in terms of interim supply and how the moneys there allocated might be spent in my own riding to improve things. But I want to conclude by serving notice again that I hope when we leave this place and return there will be a heightened commitment, for some the beginning of a commitment, to an independent Legislature so that we will not be put through the kind of acrimony that has characterized much of this spring session and for which I am, in my own way, partly responsible.

If I had my way, I would stand here to the discomfort of the executive assistant of the Treasurer and a lot of other people and talk until the middle of August just to keep this House in session to see what more we might find out about various transactions that leak out day by passing day.

I understand the adjustments and the accommodations that have given us the legislative politics of the foregone conclusion. I will simply take my place with a last reminder to everyone, from the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope) down, to keep in mind that there is an argument for the independence of the Legislature, eloquently spoken to and spoken of by my colleague the member for London Centre here today. I hope the kind of shabby House attitude that has brought us a retroactive interim supply motion without very much explanation --

Hon. F. S. Miller: I could do it today if you wish.

Mr. Conway: I would like to have had some explanation --

Hon. F. S. Miller: I have not had a chance.

Mr. Conway: I think the Treasurer is probably quite right. I would feel a lot better if he would simply stand in his place and explain to this House. I think it is important to note, when he is coming here to ask for that kind of money, that for any legislature to grant him or any other government a four-and-a-half-month holiday is palpably absurd; but he is getting it, and we are getting the pay bill, so I guess that is a trade-off.

I hope when we come back in the fall that the kinds of arguments that have divided us as private members will be ameliorated by a heightened recognition on all sides that this place is not a natural political extension of the office of the Minister without Portfolio (Mr. Gregory), to be dealt with accordingly.

Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to take part in the interim supply debate and I want to congratulate my colleague --

Mr. Peterson: You would be smart to sit down, because there is no way you can even hold a candle to him.

9:20 p.m.

Mr. Mackenzie: There is arrogance speaking. That is the new Liberal leader, is it?

Mr. McClellan: Is this the opening of Mr. Uranium Spoon's leadership campaign? Is the member feeling nervous about the member for Parkdale (Mr. Ruprecht)? Is he terrified by the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio)?

The Acting Speaker: Order.

Mr. McClellan: Is he white-lipped and trembling, to use the phrase of his former leader?

The Acting Speaker: Carry on, Mr. McClellan, on the interim supply resolution.


Mr. McClellan: What means this surliness, Mr. Speaker? I was about to compliment the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway) on an interesting and discursive address to the House.

I do not intend to take a great deal of time. I do want to use the opportunity of the debate to raise some concerns about the maladministration of our health care system in this province and to bring again to the attention of the government and of the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) the very serious problems in the health care system and a major defect in his recent budget.

The central feature of the Treasurer's budget was, among other things, the 15 per cent hike in Ontario health insurance plan premiums. One may ask oneself why he raised premiums by that amount --

The Acting Speaker: Interim supply resolution.

Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, I have sat here for approximately an hour and a half listening to one of the most interesting but discursive speeches I have ever listened to. Part of that speech dealt with OHIP and the premium assistance item of the budget. It was ruled in order then; I assume it is in order for the next 10 minutes or so.

The Acting Speaker: I really want to keep this on government motion 5.

Mr. McClellan: That is precisely what I am on.

The 15 per cent increase in OHIP premiums was very simply designed to deal with a very serious problem in our health care system: the phenomenon of extra billing. The government's solution to the problem of doctors opting out and doctors billing patients extra in Ontario was to increase the salaries of doctors by approximately 15 per cent. The 15 per cent increase in OHIP premiums matches with remarkable symmetry the 15 per cent increase in doctors' salaries. It is that problem of maladministration in the health care system that I wish to address for the next few minutes.

I want to remind you, Mr. Speaker, of the seriousness of the opting-out phenomenon in this province. I hope the Treasurer has had an opportunity to read Alan Wolfson's study of opting out and extra billing, which was prepared in July 1980. I believe it was prepared for the Ontario Economic Council.

Where is the Treasurer? Is he still selling raffle tickets? Oh, there he is.

Professor Wolfson has dispelled a number of the claims of the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell), I think, about the relative insignificance of extra billing. The Minister of Health has been claiming for the past two years that extra billing is not a serious problem in Ontario, that it is nothing --

Mr. Foulds: Could we have some order, Mr. Speaker?

Mr. McClellan: -- that extra billing is nothing to be worried about. Professor Wolfson's study shows that the Minister of Health is dead wrong. Yet the Minister of Health continues to repeat in this House and outside the House that extra billing is under control and that extra billing and opting out are not a serious problem.

I just want to draw attention to the three main points of Dr. Wolfson's study. First, extra billing is described by Dr. Wolfson as --

The Acting Speaker: Does this tie into government motion 5? The motion is on the floor, and I just want to make sure --

Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: The honourable member is speaking about the health care system and the financing of it, and interim supply has something to do with that, if you knew the elementary rules of this House.

The Acting Speaker: Mr. Foulds, your point is not accepted. Carry on, Mr. McClellan, but keep to the subject at hand, which is government motion number 5.


The Acting Speaker: Order. Carry on, Mr. McClellan. I want you to keep on government motion number 5. Just tie it in please. I can see it is important.

Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, I will say it one more time. I am going to speak for about 10 minutes on aspects of the administration of the health care system of this province.


The Acting Speaker: Order. Carry on, Mr. McClellan.

Mr. McClellan: I can take as long as everybody wants. I can stand here and stretch this out for as long as my colleague the member for Renfrew North.

The Acting Speaker: You have the floor, Mr. McClellan.

Mr. McClellan: If that is what people want to provoke me to do --


The Acting Speaker: Carry on, Mr. McClellan.

Mr. McClellan: Let me continue with a succinct presentation. I will ignore the jabbering about whatever ails the member for London Centre.

The Wolfson study talks about three important phenomena with respect to extra billing. First, it is a clustered phenomenon that affects different parts of the province differently by specialty and geography. Second, it deals in its main challenge to the health care system with the principle of our medical care system; that is, it is not as much a quantitative problem as a qualitative one. Third, it most severely affects those who are poor, disadvantaged or elderly.

The Minister of Health has been fond of saying that the incidence of extra billing is not important, that the proportion of health services billed on an opted-out basis is somewhere between seven and eight per cent of claims. He says this despite the fact that 18 per cent of practitioners have opted out of the health care plan. However, the Minister of Health continues to say it is not a serious problem and only seven per cent of OHIP services are billed on an opted-out basis.

Professor Wolfson showed over a year ago what the reasons for that apparent anomaly are. On page 17 of the Wolfson study he stated, "If all opted-out physicians billed patients direct for all their services, the proportions would be similar" -- that is to say 18 per cent. The difference between the 18 per cent, which represents the number of physicians who have opted out of the plan, and the 8.4 per cent, which represents the number of services billed on an opted-out basis under the plan, is "a measure of the extent to which opted-out physicians are billing OHIP directly for some of their patients." That is a reference to the December 1978 change in the regulations that permitted opted-out physicians to bill OHIP directly if they saw patients in their clinics at hospitals.

The significant thing about extra billing is that it has created a two-tier health care system in Ontario: one for the rich and one for the poor. That is the principal finding in Professor Wolfson's study and it is a finding the Minister of Health continues to ignore. It is the finding the Minister of Health continues to repudiate every time he stands up in this House and tries to play the numbers game by saying only seven or eight per cent of services billed under OHIP are billed on an opted-out basis. He misses the point entirely because he chooses to miss the point.

The point is, he has made provision in the regulations for opted-out doctors to bill OHIP directly if their patients are seen in a hospital clinic. Who is seen in a hospital clinic? It is a doctor's poor patients; the rich patients are seen in the doctor's office and are charged on an extra-billing basis. Poor patients are being streamed to hospital clinics where they are being billed under the OHIP plan. Again, this is the principal conclusion of Professor Wolfson's study.

I quote a comment by Professor Wolfson. He says, "If this," meaning his analysis, "is correct, it presents a direct and serious challenge to the principles embodied in medicare because it is a direct attack on the principle of uniformity of access to medical services."

Members will be aware that one of the principal underpinnings of the medicare system in this country and in this province is set out in section 4(1) of the Medical Act. The second principle reads: "A medicare act must provide for the furnishing of ensured services upon uniform terms and conditions by paying reasonable compensation and guaranteeing reasonable access."

I ask you, Mr. Speaker, and I ask the Treasurer, what kind of reasonable access is it, what kind of uniformity is it when there is one kind of medicare for the rich and another kind for the poor, when some patients get first-class service in the doctor's office and other patients are sent to a hospital clinic?

That is the fundamental threat that extra billing poses to the medicare system. The serious challenge to this government is to make sure a two-class medicare system is not allowed to continue to develop. We know this very distressing phenomenon has already begun to happen; we know that from independent, objective study. The government refuses to take the problem seriously and refuses to explore any number of options that are available to it to deal with the problem of extra billing.

Our party has put forward one of those options. It is simply this: There should be one-price medicine in Ontario. We do not care if a doctor has opted in or opted out; all we care about is that there be one price charged and that the price be the price paid by the OHIP schedule of fees. If a doctor wants to opt out and bill his patients directly, and have the patients send their bills to OHIP for full reimbursement, that is fine by us. But we do not believe any doctor should be permitted to charge more than the OHIP fee schedule. That is our policy and it is one of the options put forward in the medicare debate. It is not one that has been accepted by the government.

There are other options. Quebec has a system whereby a doctor is either in or he is out of the medicare plan. If he is out, he is not able to get any kind of reimbursement; nor is his patient. That is another option -- not one we favour -- but it is certainly another option that is there for the government to consider.

Professor Wolfson himself has put forward a third option. He suggests a combined policy with one component being a proposal to permit doctors to opt out and to still be reimbursed by the medicare scheme, plus 10 per cent for expenses. This would be together with a fee and incomes policy which would permit doctors to move away from a strict fee-for-service payment and to get away from revolving-door medicine. It would put a ceiling on incomes which would be guaranteed despite a possible reduction in the number of actual office visits.

What has the government decided to do? What has the government chosen as its solution to the opting-out phenomenon? I recall the words of Aneurin Bevan when he was asked how he would deal with the doctors when he set up medicare in Great Britain just after the war. He said: "I shall stop up their mouths with money." That seems to be the limit of the policy of the government of Ontario today. That seems to be the extent of their creative imagination. That seems to be the beginning of the end of their capacity to deal with the fundamental threat to the integrity of the medicare system in this province. It is to splash around some money -- a great deal of money.

Let us just remind ourselves how much money we are talking about. The Weiler report, which was the basis for the physicians' compensation settlement, awarded a 14.75 per cent increase. Now the average net income of a specialist in Ontario is $99,660 for a year. That is take-home pay. That is an awful lot of money.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: That does not take into account all the fringe benefits which he has to provide for himself.

Mr. McClellan: That amount -- $99,660 -- is a lot of money. It is a very generous settlement. We repeat, there are other options than simply firing vast amounts of money in a certain direction.

But the real problem is compounded by the way the government has chosen to pay the bill for this most generous wage settlement. It is 15 per cent for the doctors, 15 per cent added on to the OHIP premiums, and who will pay that? Again, the burden of paying for the centrepiece of the Treasurer's budget falls most heavily on low-income people. It falls on those who can least afford to pay to provide the salaries for the best-paid profession in our society.

There is something very out of whack when a fundamental threat to the health care system results in a two-class medicare system -- one for the rich and a less effective one for the poor. It rewards the providers of service at an exceptionally generous level of remuneration by imposing the most severe burden on those who are least able to afford it. There are so many things that have gone out of whack in the health care system from the delivery end to the financing end that it causes one some measure of despair.

I have raised with the Premier on a number of occasions -- I do not intend to belabour the point, particularly since the Premier is not paying the slightest bit of attention -- the fundamental inadequacy of the government's premium assistance program.

9:40 p.m.

The premium assistance program is ostensibly designed to make the premium system somewhat progressive, to ease the burden of regressivity that is an inherent feature of a flat rate premium system. I do not know how much more proof the Treasurer or the Minister of Health, whom I see in the wings, need that the premium assistance program is utterly ineffective. Earlier in the session we reviewed the statistics that had been so recently provided. I remind the Treasurer that at the time of the 1978 select committee, it was estimated by his own staff that something in the order of 160,000 Ontarians were eligible for partial premium assistance.

Today, two and a half years after the staggering revelations that virtually nobody was getting partial premium assistance, there are only 8,174 subscribers in Ontario who are getting partial premium assistance, despite the fact the criteria for eligibility have been made increasingly generous. So many thousands more people are eligible for partial assistance in 1981 than there were in 1978. In reality, it is virtually a secret program that is not advertised and is not known by the majority of people in this province. The administrative machinery for application is as secret as the program itself. There was a time when the Ministry of Health refused to make application forms available to MPPs and their constituency offices. That problem has been remedied.

The Treasurer knows the program does not work. He knows the premium system has become something of a payroll tax for most people. I believe 70 per cent of subscribers pay for OHIP through their place of employment, so it has some of the features already of a payroll tax. He knows the premium assistance program is not working. He said as long ago as 1979 that the premium assistance program was not working.

He said as long ago as 1979 that we needed -- he suggested that it would make sense, let me be fair, to move towards -- a tax credit program taking into account some of the realities. We do not believe in a premium system at all. The Treasurer knows that, just in case he wants to try to misinterpret what I am saying. But if he wants to try to deal with the fundamental unfairness of the way OHIP is financed, he has only to follow his own advice to himself in 1979 and institute a tax credit program that would ease the burden of OHIP premiums in an automatic way, in an administratively efficient way, and eliminate the premium assistance program, as was recommended two and a half years ago by the select committee. That at least would be a supportable budget measure, rather than the kind of regressivity that characterizes the entire budget, but which is so glaring and blatant with respect to the proposed premium increase.

I do not hold out very much hope that this government is going to address itself to the first problem I spoke to of extra billing and doctors opting out. I think the Minister of Health will continue to try to stonewall with numbers. He has not been doing too well lately with his numbers on hospital beds. He has not been doing too well lately with his numbers on doctors opting out. He does not seem to be able to provide those numbers for us. He likes to keep his numbers up his sleeve because whenever the numbers come out they reveal his statements that all is well in the health care system are basically false, basically not accurate.

Mr. Philip: Where are the chronic care beds?

Mr. McClellan: All those chronic care beds were promised in December, 1980. There were more than 3,000 chronic care beds to be put into place in 1980. They all evaporated, they all disappeared. Of all those nursing home beds that were going to be built, how many of them have been built? What about all of those active treatment beds that were not being cut out of the system? All of a sudden we get the numbers this month and find that more than 4,000 active treatment beds have been cut out of the system. Where were all the chronic care beds that were going to replace those active treatment beds? Almost 1,000 chronic care beds have been cut out of the system.

The Minister of Health, in a moment of carelessness, released statistics on hospital beds to the Legislature. I am sure he is chastizing his staff even now for their clumsiness in making that information available to members of the assembly. But in those figures he is revealed to have been trying to hide the realities of what he has been doing during five years of budgetary constraints and cutbacks. The realities in that area are exactly the same as the realities with respect to extra billing and opting out.

The numbers tell the same sad story and it is not an easy message to communicate. It is esoteric. It has to do with the mysteries of administration and numbers crunching. It is kind of boring and it is kind of difficult to talk about and it is easy to fool the people. It really is easy to fool the people on these matters.

The Minister of Health has become a real master at that game. Because of that mastery, that numbers manipulation, I hold out very little hope that the fundamental problems I have been talking about tonight are going to be dealt with by this government. The only thing this government has been interested in doing is hiding the realities behind manipulated figures and funny statistics. That is the game that has been played for the last three years. That is the game that continues to be played.

I would hope the Treasurer would at least have the decency to follow his own advice with respect to one small problem, the unfairness of the OHIP premium. I hope he would bring in a tax credit and replace the premium assistance program which has not worked since its inception.

Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, it is not my intention to filibuster this resolution the way my friends from the NDP have but to sort of humbly follow my very eloquent and qualified colleagues, the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) and the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway).

I just have about four or five of what I consider relevant matters on this interim supply motion that trouble me and have yet to be resolved by the government. I addressed this matter briefly earlier today and I do not intend to repeat that argument. I do not intend to go into all the supporting documentation I brought to the government's attention at that time.

I believe -- and I have yet to be dissuaded even by the protestations of the honourable House leader (Mr. Wells) -- this is a fairly irregular procedure. I would like to hear the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller), as the chief financial officer for this province, explain out of his own mouth what in my judgement is an irregularity in procedure.

I just want to recall briefly the sequence of events. On March 10, there were management board orders for $4.7 billion. I hope I have established this afternoon that the management board order, a special warrant as it is known under the Management Board Act, is for special occasions -- for emergency situations.

9:50 p.m.

I am glad the deputy and his staff are sitting over there, because they may have an opportunity to learn something here tonight for the first time in 20 years or so. That special warrant is to be used, for example, if a building is falling down or if it needs repairs -- an emergency situation. We would understand the use of emergency funds if, for example, there were a forest fire or a tornado or a natural disaster of that order. That is when this special kind of warrant comes into effect.

We also recognize that the intervening election was a special circumstance requiring a management board order to allow the government to spend moneys in the ordinary course of events. But in our judgement they did not need roughly one quarter of the total year's expenditures by way of a special warrant.

In my experience, at least -- and I defer to some of my colleagues who have been here longer than I -- this is a highly unusual situation and a disproportionately large amount of money in the circumstances. I clearly recognize the right to issue a warrant on March 10, but it could have been regularized when we came back on April 23 or 24, at least in the first week. It is now roughly two months after that, and the delay is very disconcerting -- at least to me.

They should have moved quickly to regularize that irregular or special procedure which is provided, and I think I have suggested the historical argument for so doing this afternoon. The House leader is a man for whom I generally have a high degree of respect but I was greatly dissatisfied with his answer this afternoon. I thought it was not relevant.

He mentioned something about a House leaders' meeting. In my judgement no meeting he has with any House leader, be it mine or the New Democratic Party's or anyone else's, can surpass or supplant the essential elements of parliamentary procedure. Among these elements is the supremacy of parliament when it comes to the voting of supply or the approving of expenditures. That is one of the most sacred and historically relevant and meaningful obligations we have as members of parliament. If that goes, those Jeremiahs who see the demise of parliament are going to have even more fodder for their argument.

Surely we should keep that historical and sacred right in our hands here to approve those expenditures. I have not seen that. I think it could have been regularized far earlier. I cannot comprehend why the government chose to go by way of a special warrant for that amount of money.

Now we are presented with an interim supply motion on June 11 -- my date may be out one or two days, but approximately in that area -- and we have been asked to vote supply retroactive to June 1. That in itself is a very extraordinary procedure. We are asked to regularize things after the fact. The House leader said today in explanation that we voted $4.7 billion for a three-month period, but his words today were "some of that has run out." He said, "Some of that in some of the ministries may run until the end of the month; some of it may not." When questioned why it should go back to June 1 he said, "Some of it may have run out, so we must have a retroactive cover for those expenditures."

If the members follow the House leader's own logic then this House has been operating illegally. I cannot prove it, but that is his argument. He is saying some of the ministries do not have the money, that they were not voted supply, this House has been operating illegally. There has been no appropriation for the expenditures that have gone on. I regard that as a denial of the most basic law by which parliament functions.

He went into some great explanation about how an election intervened, how this was approved on March 10 -- I am sorry, is it March 10 or March 20? I have said to him before I think this could have been regularized as soon as we came back, and we would not have had this kind of discussion today wherein we had to call upon historical precedents to look at the special warrants and the usage of those special devices. But it was an inappropriate usage of those devices. Now we are trying to regularize that by interim supply after the fact. Any way we look at it, either from the beginning or ex post facto from the supply motion looking back, something was irregular. And I am not satisfied with the explanations.

I hope the Treasurer tonight in his explanation will tell us how this came about and why it was not cleaned up later. It is not good enough for me that the House leader has some quiet agreement -- I do not care with whom -- and can just bypass the basic laws of this parliament if, in fact, such an agreement existed. I have no idea what signatures he has or what agreements he has, but as a private member I have been interested in the whole supply procedure and the public accounts procedure and the accountability of parliament and the members to government spending.

I have spent some time on this, from a public accounts point of view, from an estimates point of view and from a House point of view. I do not think the House leader has the prerogative to bring to the other House leaders the suggestion that they can contract out of this basic parliamentary responsibility. That is why I am most dissatisfied with it. I am not persuaded by his argument that it was because there was an election. Granted it was extraordinary in the circumstances, but he cannot pretend for a minute he was voting with those special warrant supplies to bridge over two years. Those special warrants start on April 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year.

Some may regard this as a mere administrative detail to be cleaned up appropriately so that we can carry on. But, Mr. Speaker, I know you have some feeling for the sanctity of this institution. Maybe our rules are archaic, maybe they are wrong and maybe we could make them more germane to the issues and the functioning of business in a modern world. Maybe that is the case but that is not what I am saying today.

As long as we have rules and we, the 125 members, do not respect them, if we do not respect the rights and privileges of every other member here on an individual as well as on a collective basis, then that is the start of the disintegration of democracy. We are here to uphold those traditions. I am one of those, frankly, who even regrets the passing of some of the democratic traditions that have upheld this House since I, at least, was a member. For example, I favour calling the other members by the names of their ridings -- the member for Erie or wherever. I think we are breaking some of these rules far too promiscuously for our own good, as well as for the good of the people we represent.

That is a small point and something I do not feel is your complete responsibility, Mr. Speaker. But I had an important point to make this afternoon after a great deal of thought and discussion with a number of experts in this area. I think it was a violation of what is important here. I think the government should pay more attention to those things. I hope in his explanation tonight the Treasurer will, from his own vantage point, try to explain and regularize the procedure that, in my judgement, has been highly irregular.

Mr. Philip: I would like to spend just a few moments dealing with certain moneys that are being spent or not being spent in certain ways I disagree with. What we are really doing when we pass interim supply is saying certain programs are going to be financed and others that are perhaps even more deserving are not. Therefore, the priorities of the Treasurer -- the way in which he chooses those projects and the way he chooses who will be taxed to finance the projects -- concerns me. If there was ever a hoax perpetuated on innocent hard-working people, it is the special needs agreement and special services agreement this Treasurer has initiated.

10 p.m.

This Treasurer will stop at nothing to tax the middle class while ignoring the corporations. An example is the program outlined in this red booklet called, About Special Needs Agreement and Special Services Program Agreement: A Booklet for Parents. It is a program to tax those people who happen to have the misfortune of having a retarded child. The ministry does not have the guts simply to tax those unfortunate people. Instead it has to disguise it under the camouflage of providing some kind of agreement to provide an individualized service plan for the needy child.

It recognizes the parents of children in such institutions as the Huronia Regional Centre are concerned about their children, are concerned about the care or lack of care they are getting and that they are able to play on the emotions of these parents. The very fact the government feels it can play on the emotions of parents in this way is an admission of the failure of operations such as the Huronia mental health centre.

If I thought that by voting with the government tonight I could somehow improve the services to the mentally handicapped and the physically disabled I would be more than anxious to do so. But I am afraid the booklet by the ministry turned out to be the worst form of blackmail and con artistry I have seen the government perpetrate in a long time.

I would like to read a section of it. Under the heading, "Special Services Agreement," it states on page three: "When the special needs agreement has been signed, you can take an active part in negotiating your child's program and including information about it in the special services agreement. This agreement is between you and the service provided and it clearly outlines the special services your child will be entitled to receive and will identify the ways in which you and the resident staff will attempt to meet your child's needs."

What it is really saying to the parents in no uncertain words is, "You have a child who needs certain things, but he will not get them unless you agree to pay for those under this agreement we are forcing on you." I say that is a form of blackmail by the government, by the former Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Norton), and now being carried out by the present minister (Mr. Drea) and the Treasurer. The implication is, "Either you sign the agreement or your child does not get the kind of treatment he needs." That is blackmail on innocent people.

Page seven is also interesting. It says: "What sort of special services might be negotiated? Special hearing programs, special training for the visually handicapped, communication and language development, artificial limbs and wheelchairs are some of the examples."

In a province as rich as ours, one would think a humane government would already be providing those services. The fact parents have to negotiate for this is an indication of the failure of the program in the first place.

Mr. Foulds: The fact they should be called special services is disgraceful.

Mr. Philip: Absolutely disgraceful.

This booklet indicates that certain services will be negotiated, not that they will be provided. What one is buying then is something way out there. P. T. Barnum, the great carnival con artist, would have been proud of this. He always said: "What you sell is not something concrete or specific. What you sell is a hope. You play to people's aspirations of what they like and as long as you can sell something that is abstract but do not have to produce anything, then you have got a good con."

But Barnum had some sense of ethics -- more than this government. While his philosophy was that there is a sucker born every minute he also recognized and had certain ethics that there were certain marks one did not touch. Barnum would not have seen as a mark the parents of disabled children and that is what this government is doing.

What is this carny book really selling? On page eight it tells us that it is selling participation. It is going to sell the participation of the parents in the rehabilitation programs, the educational programs and the development programs for their children. It says, "The service provider will introduce you to the staff who are caring for your child." One would have thought the people whose children are there would already have been introduced to the staff. That is just common sense.

It also says, "The residents will inform you of any medical problem affecting your child." That is a relief. We know of countless horror stories coming out of Huronia where the parents have not been informed. At least that is a step forward. There is a promise they are going to be informed. They are going to be informed when their child is given too many drugs, I suppose.

"The services being provided will be reviewed within four months of signing the agreement and annually from there on. You are invited to take part in these program reviews and also to visit your child at any time."

It is selling participation. Parents are going to be consulted. The government knows parents have been complaining that they have not been consulted. I revealed one horror story last year about the way in which the parents of a certain person were not consulted. The government managed to do a very nice coverup on that.

When we look at the agreement, that is where we see the fudge words. The agreement says:

"Although parents have the right to access to the contents of the file, in order to access parents in this regard where information contained in records is likely to be misinterpreted because of technical jargon or abbreviation or requires professional interpretation, a suitable summary will be provided in writing or verbally by an appropriate qualified member of the staff in order to make the information understandable to the person seeking it."

On one hand they are saying, "We are going to consult you" and on the other hand they are saying: "But the staff person may decide you are too dumb to understand the real implications of it so we are going to be there and we will interpret it. You will not see the file; we will interpret it."

We have seen some of those interpretations over the years and so have the parents and they know what they have done. It has been a fudge game to hide the inaccuracies, the inequities and the insufficiencies of the program.

It goes on to say: "However, information provided to the program by parents and other relatives which relates to the family or individual members of the family will be treated in confidence unless the person providing it has indicated that it may be disclosed."

There is some reason for that and one can understand it. However, having that in the agreement without any kind of explanation is simply an indication to the average person reading it that, "We are going to consult you but on our terms. You may be sure if we do not want you to have any kind of information, we are not going to give it to you."

This program is really a revenue-raising program. It is disguised as a program that will give new services in some way but there are no new services spelled out. It is disguised as a way of providing people who are afraid and anxious about their children with some hope that those children will get extra services. It is providing a hope but no concrete proof that anything will come from it. It is a way of taxing those people who have the misfortune of having a child who is mentally retarded in some way. That is all it is.

The government's own papers indicate that the agreements should generate $18 million to $22 million over a period of 10 years. That is the Treasurer's game. It has nothing to do with helping these children. It is a revenue-producing mechanism. He does not want to tax the corporations so he will tax the parents of mentally retarded children. Since there are 1,800 families affected in this province, those are the people who are being taxed by this program. It is a tax, in no uncertain terms.

10:10 p.m.

A single parent who earns $12,000 a year and has a child in a residential program will have to contribute $1,080. I will admit I do not know the number of single-parent families earning $12,000 who may be affected by that. No doubt the government will have some figures. Rather than dwelling on those very needy cases, I would like to share with members a case that is probably more typical, an average middle-class family and the effect it has on them.

This family is a hard-working family. They are the kind of people who have made this province great, people who have immigrated from Europe, learned the English language, worked hard, bought a home by having both parents working, and are attempting to bring up their family. They are well respected and liked in their community in Rexdale. They have built a home and worked on it with their own hands and are trying to contribute to this society. They came to me and said, "If we thought that agreement would do something for our child, if we thought it would provide some extra service, we would run to sign it. But what we have is a contract that is one-sided, where they get the money and we do not get any concrete proof that anything will change or improve.".

They said to me, "Use our names." I will not use the names, but I will use the name of the child and tell members about her case. Tammy went to Huronia Regional Centre in Orillia five years ago. At that time there was no charge. Huronia started taking Tammy's family allowance two years ago. The family have another child who is 13 years old and has three heart defects. She has had heart surgery on two occasions. She goes to a special school, grades one and two, and is not able to care for herself -- that is, grooming, bathing and so forth -- so the family has additional costs related to that other child.

The family visits Tammy almost every weekend; they counted 42 weekends in 1980, and it is over 100 kilometres one way, which with the additional gasoline tax the minister is imposing on us will mean even higher costs this year and in the years to come. The mother feels that Huronia is understaffed and that Tammy does not get good care. She believes Tammy might be abused from time to time. Those are her words to us. Tammy's condition developed because she was allergic to whooping cough vaccine. She went into seizures and developed brain damage due to lack of oxygen.

That is the typical kind of hard-working middle-class family that this form of taxation disguised as a service is hitting. The minister is not content that he hits the average middle-class suburban family with his gasoline tax, but he has to also hit some of those hard-working people with an additional tax. He looks around and says: "Which group can I find? I am not going to attack the corporations; I will charge them less tax as a total percentage. So let us find some group I can pick on. After all, the parents of mentally retarded children are dispersed and so forth. So let us sock it to them." That is what he has done.

These parents, if they could have some concrete proof that for once their children would get adequate service, would probably flock to sign the agreement. But they have not. What we have is a government that decides with which patronage group they will deal. Who is going to get the goodies? We see that even in the way in which they handle their handouts to companies. We saw that in the seven per cent sales tax reduction. There are pros and cons of removing the seven per cent sales tax, but surely there is a need for some consistency.

I would like to read a letter written to the Treasurer on June 10, by a corporation in my riding, Steel-Arch Structures Limited. The basic point of this is, if he is going to hand out a grant, a subsidy, an assistance to business, then he should at least be consistent. I would like to read it to the Treasurer, just to remind him of it. I do not know whether he has answered the letter. There was a carbon copy to me, so I would have thought if he had answered it he might have sent me a copy of his reply, but I have not received it yet. It is from Steel-Arch Structures Limited, Clairville Drive in Rexdale.

It says: "Dear Mr. Miller: Please find enclosed copy of the Ministry of Revenue letter dated December 1, 1980. Your sales tax exemption on building materials from November 1980 has to a great degree helped to stimulate sales up to this time, particularly to the farm community which represents a large percentage of our sales.

"However, as much as your exemption stimulated sales, the present rule that the materials must be delivered by June 30, 1981, is beginning to de-stimulate sales and cause delivery problems for us and our customers.

"We understand the furniture manufacturers and distributors lobbied to get delivery delayed to September 30, 1981, providing purchases were made on or before June 30, 1981, the reason being that the furniture could not be manufactured on time for June 30 delivery.

"We are in the same position inasmuch as we cannot keep up with orders to be manufactured and delivered before June 30, 1981, and therefore have the same problems as furniture manufacturers.

"We have had discussions with Mr. Tom Sweeting, Mr. K. S. Krishnan and the office of the Honourable Tom Wells, MPP, who were sympathetic to the problem and all suggested we contact you directly."

They contacted the minister directly through the letter. They said: "We would appreciate the same consideration -- and our customers as well -- especially the farmer." It is signed by Jim Bird, vice-president of the company.

In a similar way, while the government seems to be able to give to the furniture manufacturers an extension but not this company, Steel-Arch Structures Limited, in an even closer and more analogous situation it has failed to do the same thing for the kitchen cabinet manufacturers. Kitchen cabinets, to my way of thinking, are another form of furniture. Why is it if the cabinet happens to be standing on the floor and not be attached to the wall it is a piece of furniture and, therefore, the seven per cent sales tax is removed, but if it is attached to a wall it is not? That is the inconsistency.

Mr. Peterson: Just because you have yours in the living room does not make it furniture.

Mr. Philip: Kitchen cabinets even in the living room, if attached to the wall, are not covered by this. That is the inconsistency of the Treasurer.

I would like to read to the minister a letter from Gregg Kitchen Cabinet Centre. It is addressed to me and it says: "Thank you for your interest in our present problem with the return of Ontario sales tax on June 30, 1981.

"The problem is that many people have already purchased kitchens and are continuing to do so in the hopes that they can purchase them before the resumption of the sales tax. Unfortunately, kitchen cabinets are somewhat less available than furniture. As each kitchen is different, the kitchens must be more or less made to fit each individual application.

"We at Gregg, one of the largest suppliers of kitchen cabinets in Canada, have no hope of supplying most of the existing orders that our customers have placed before the June 30 deadline. Therefore, the customers who have placed these orders with us will have to pay the sales tax.

"The furniture industry has been allowed to accept orders until June 30 and then has been given until September 30 to make delivery with no sales tax charged to their customers. As furniture is more readily available than kitchen cabinets, we find this law very hard to understand, and even harder to explain to our customers who were planning not to have to pay sales tax." The letter goes on in a similar vein.

Basically, what the kitchen cabinet manufacturers are saying is that a lot of the furniture that is sold, or a certain percentage of it, is imported furniture. They are manufacturing another type of furniture that is entirely Canadian made, with the exception of a few luxury lines that do come in from northern Europe, but for the most part, more Canadian than the furniture manufacturers as a total percentage, so why do they not get the same kind of consideration?

10:20 p.m.

In using these three examples, I am pointing out to the Treasurer if he wishes to give out various kinds of monetary concessions to corporations or to whatever group, at least there should be some consistency. I do not expect him to be consistent. He has never been consistent. He listens to whatever happens to be the most powerful lobby at the time. He has chosen to pick on the parents of children who happen to be mentally retarded, he chooses to pick some manufacturers over others, and that is the whole patronage system by which this Treasurer operates.

Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, I have no wish to delay the debate but I have a single topic that I do wish to deal with and it is certainly not going to be possible for me to deal with it in the next seven minutes of the House.

Mr. Riddell: Let us give it a shot.

Mr. Renwick: Let us not give it a try. I certainly do not intend to operate under any compulsion of the clock. I want members to understand that. I have no interest in delaying the process of the House but there are important matters that I want to put before the Treasurer. To divide it into two parts seems to be an irrelevant procedure at this point.

Would it be possible -- rather than having me speak irrelevancies for five or six minutes -- to see the clock saying 10:30 o'clock and I could move the adjournment of the debate?

Hon. Miss Stephenson: No.

Mr. Renwick: I will talk about some irrelevancies, then.

Mr. Speaker: Do we have the consent of the House? No?

Hon. Mr. Norton: Neither for adjournment nor for irrelevancies.

Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Riverdale has the floor; carry on.

Mr. Renwick: I think perhaps I could put on the record a table of figures that I wanted to use in the course of my remarks, which will take me a few minutes, and presumably by then it will be 10:30. I can then make the substance of my remarks on another occasion.

I have the average net incomes in Canada for the period from 1962 to 1978 based upon the returns filed for income tax purposes in Ottawa. The specific items I want to deal with are the average net income of a doctor in each of the years 1962 to 1978, and the ratio of that doctor's average income to the average income of all employees in Canada.

Therefore there are three columns: the year, the doctor's average income for that year expressed to the nearest thousand dollars, and the ratio of that doctor's average income to the average income of all employees in Canada. They are as follows: 1962, $18,000, 4.9; 1963, $19,000, 5.1; 1964, $21,000, 5.4; 1965, $23,000, 5.6; 1966, $25,000, 5.6; 1967, $27,000, 5.8; 1968, $29,000, 6; 1969, $32,000, 6; 1970, $34,000, 6; 1971, $39,000, 6.5; 1972, $41,000, 6; 1973, $42,000, 5.7 --

Hon. Mr. Norton: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I believe that the honourable member is incorrect in his statement with respect to 1972. My recollection is that it was $40,999 as opposed to $41,000. I wish you would direct him to be more accurate in the statements he is making in this House.

Mr. Renwick: As a matter of fact the minister, as usual, is incorrect. It was, in precise figures, $40,728.

Hon. Mr. Norton: See? I knew he was wrong.

Mr. Renwick: For 1973, $42,000, 5.7; 1974, $44,000, 5.1; 1975, $46,000, 4.7; 1976, $48,000, 4.3; 1977, $51,000, 4.2; and 1978, $53,000, 4.1.

Mr. Speaker, it being now about 10:30 I move the adjournment of the debate.


Mr. Renwick: Well, according to my clock it is 29 minutes past. Perhaps the minister --

Mr. Speaker: Mr. Renwick, I think we have two and a half minutes in which you can continue.

Mr. Renwick: You would like me to continue?

Mr. Speaker: I will remind you at the appropriate time.

Mr. Renwick: Perhaps the Minister of the Environment would answer me. What time does his clock say?

Hon. Mr. Norton: Am I invited to respond to that, Mr. Speaker? I always operate at a much greater rate of speed and with greater accuracy than the honourable member opposite. However, I must say that on this particular occasion his clock has got ahead of him. The correct time, I believe, is approximately 10:28 p.m.

Mr. Speaker: One and a half minutes, Mr. Renwick.

Mr. Renwick: I have a message here from the Treasurer. It says: "Jim, were you aware that your party and the Liberals both agreed to pass interim supply tonight? Frank Miller." I was perhaps aware there was some arrangement about that. There was a matter that I wish to speak about, and I intend to speak about it.

Mr. Nixon: That is right. The member has every right to do so. Now he can move the adjournment.

Mr. Renwick: Now I can?

Mr. Nixon: Yes.

Mr. Renwick: Thank you. Is that agreeable?

On motion by Mr. Renwick, the debate was adjourned.

The House adjourned at 10:29 p.m.